Your Daily Jolt: Barrow glad for “a few less crazy people” in House

Augusta’s Blue Dog Democratic Rep. John Barrow found himself among like-minded folks this morning at a seminar sponsored by Center Forward, a group that works to promote the few remaining moderates in Congress. The point was to examine the role moderates play in the fiscal cliff negotiations and Congress going forward.

Barrow swung between lamenting the receding number of Blue Dogs and pronouncing himself hopeful for the future. The outlook for the forthcoming Congress is positive, he said, because “we have a somewhat smaller number of crazies than there is currently. … A few less crazy people is a good start.”

He was referring mostly to the conservative House Republicans who “created a crisis” over the debt limit vote last year and who, he said, are hemming in Speaker John Boehner now. Barrow said the biggest problem as we near the fiscal cliff is “the tyranny of the minority within the majority, their ability to dismiss their leader and their predisposition to do so.”

He wasn’t naming names, but some home-state lawmakers might have been dancing through his head.

Barrow said the Blue Dogs will be relied upon to approve a final deal to cover for the conservatives who will vote against Boehner, but he said there has been no real cross-aisle discussion as members await an agreement between Boehner and President Barack Obama.

Back in the day, Barrow said, moderates were “the brakes” on any one wing of a party imposing its will. But now he said they are more like a GPS system showing those in power the correct route to the center of the electorate — but without the control to steer them there.

Some possible solutions proffered: Nonpartisan redistricting commissions and top-two primary systems like those in California, which create more competitive and moderate districts. Barrow also lamented the Citizens United decision and the flood of outside money it has unleashed in campaigns, which was a tad ironic given that his hosts, Center Forward, spent around $900,000 on ads attacking Lee Anderson in Barrow’s race.

The breakfast meeting was held in the posh offices of Altria, the parent company of tobacco maker Philip Morris, with a gorgeous view of the Capitol a block away. Altria’s PAC gave Barrow $10,000, and we don’t know how much the company gave to Center Forward, because the organization does not disclose its donors.

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Coweta County Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland had a less charitable word than “crazy people” to describe some of his colleagues in an interview with Roll Call. We can’t repeat it here, as this is a family blog, but let’s just say it has something to do with a rear orifice.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland in 2007 (AJC file)

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland in 2007 (AJC file)

Some background: Westmoreland serves on the powerful Republican Steering Committee, which earned conservative ire for booting four members from prime committees. The members were among the most likely to vote against leadership priorities and this move was viewed in some corners as punishment for being too conservative.

Not so, said Westmoreland, who is quite conservative himself. After a tense meeting with the conservative Republican Study Committee, Westmoreland told Roll Call that the episode had more to do with personality:

“What I tried to explain to them was, it didn’t have anything to do with your voting record, a scorecard, your work across the street [fundraising] or anything else. It had to do with your ability to work within the system and to try to work. And to be, I guess, constructive in things. And I said, ‘I guess you could say it was an [expletive] factor,’” Westmoreland said. “Now I wasn’t calling any member in particular an [expletive], I was just trying to describe an environment where some people that you’re trying to work with, they just don’t want to work within the system.”

Westmoreland later expressed regret for using that language, saying, “Maybe I should have used ‘obstinate factor.’”

The steering committee reviewed a spreadsheet listing how members voted on key bills. But Westmoreland said that information was not a deciding, or even important, part of the consideration.

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Rep. John Lewis’ new memoir, Across that Bridge, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work-Biography/Auto-Biography. The Atlanta Democrat’s tome will be up against:

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, Kofi Annan
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, Tom Reiss
The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, Will Allen
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, RJ Smith

The awards show airs Feb. 1 on NBC.

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State Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, wants pro-choice license plates in Georgia to match the “Choose Life” version, in light of a judge’s ruling in North Carolina, Channel 11 reports.

***

Win your next bar trivia contest with the following tidbit. Via the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama is poised to match Franklin Roosevelt’s record of being sworn in as the nation’s leader four times.

While FDR served four terms, Obama is getting double swearing-in ceremonies for each of his two terms.

He’s planning a private oath at the White House on Jan. 20, when the Constitution requires that his second term begin. But since presidential inaugurations are not traditionally on Sundays, his public swearing-in is scheduled Jan. 21.

In 2009, Obama had a do-over of his oath the day after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts accidentally mixed up the words in the public ceremony.

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

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17 comments Add your comment

South GA Food Taxer

December 13th, 2012
11:19 am

I wish some of Barrow’s moderation could take hold in the State House, so I could switch patries again.

South GA Food Taxer

December 13th, 2012
11:20 am

parties, I mean.

nathan's political arsonist

December 13th, 2012
11:26 am

John Barrow for governor in 2014 !!! And kudos to Senator Gloria Butler, she should also sponser a license plate sticker that says, ” I exercise my right to not trust any god”

Ostrich Racer

December 13th, 2012
11:40 am

Not a big fan of Mr. Westmoreland, but give him credit, in this instance, for telling it like it is.

NoMoreRawDeal

December 13th, 2012
11:44 am

Good to know Mr. Westmoreland won’t be one of the critics when his boy Boehner screws us all on the fiscal cliff. I’d say that just about puts him in the same camp as Saxby (deserving of a primary challenge, that is, since all Mr. Westmoreland seems to be now is a yes-man for the party leadership). Also disconcerting that they would refer to people trying to hold to conservative principles as “a-holes.” Just one more reason why the Republican Party isn’t worth fighting for anymore.

Retired Soldier

December 13th, 2012
11:55 am

No-

Exactly correct, working “inside the system” is what is important. Is there any wonder why conservatives are fed up with our so called leadership? It is time we conservatives have a very simple requirement for our so called conservative elected leaders, produce a conservative product or be gone. Many are way over due to retire to private life. Let’s do our job and send them home.

Bob Loblaw

December 13th, 2012
12:17 pm

Lynn is right. If the GOP doesn’t quit listening to the idiot fringe it’ll find itself about successful as Newt’s presidential campaign–only winning GA and AL.

DJ Sniper

December 13th, 2012
12:38 pm

This is what happens when the inmates take over the asylum.

Retired Soldier

December 13th, 2012
12:38 pm

Bob-

What has working inside the republican “system” gotten us? A annual 1.1 trillion dollar deficit and over 16 trillion in debt. Working real well isn’t it.

Jim

December 13th, 2012
12:40 pm

I thought the license plate we have was pro-choice. It says “Choose life.” Doesn’t that imply there should be a choice?

Kris

December 13th, 2012
1:08 pm

“”"The breakfast meeting was held in the posh offices of Altria, the parent company of tobacco maker Philip Morris,Altria’s PAC gave Barrow $10,000,”"

Smoke em if you got em….So much for ETHICS…..opps mt bad this is GA.

LAST in education
First in home forecloses.
First in lack of ETHICS
Shady DEALS….

There is still 2014 to look forward to.

Auntie Christ

December 13th, 2012
1:22 pm

Aren’t the republicans going to be surprised when, after their efforts to run off all the crazies in their party, they look around and see there’s no one left to vote for them. If the crazies, the kooks, the a-holes, and tin foil hat crowd desert the party, that would leave maybe a hundred thousand republicans in the whole country, and none in GA. It makes more sense for the few thousand sane republicans to abandon the republican name and form another pro business party, letting bachmann, palin, alan west, louie gohmer, paul broun, and the rest of the deranged tea partiers have the ‘republican’ trademark that they have taken such pains to lay waste to for the last 5 years. At least the next set of republican debates won’t see a reasonable, qualified candidate like romney have to cater to a crowd that boos a soldier serving in Afghanistan, shouts ‘let him die’ in reference to a man without insurance, and cheers the fact that a governor has let over 100 people go to the gas chamber.

parah salin (the governor)

December 13th, 2012
4:00 pm

If the leaders of the GOP keep getting picked to lead the party, then I would guess a majority of the party likes what they are doing. If the leadership has the power to remove people, that comes with the territory. How many people get to undermine their boss and remain on the job. the congress agreed that the speaker is their leader/boss. That is just common sense.

Atlantan

December 13th, 2012
4:05 pm

Nancy Pelosi, Hank Johnson, Shelia Jackson Lee, Corrine Brown, anyone who supported Obamacare and now are trying to change it, etc are still there. Looks like plenty of crazy people are still in Congress. Barrow is full of it – again…

Atlantan

December 13th, 2012
4:08 pm

So according the dem supporters on here it is insane and crazy to oppose out of control spending and the devaluation of the dollar, but fine to support it? Wow the Democrat led public educational system has been a success. I hope you ppl truly get to experience what 4 more years means.

Tax hikes on the upper 2% will cover 8 days of Federal spending, but that’ll turn it all around – correct? It is pretty clear our Republic will be over soon.

Edmund Ruffin

December 14th, 2012
7:10 am

Let Gloria Butler have her license plates………of course the opposite of “Choose Life” is “Choose Death”, very appropriate for baby killers.

honested

December 14th, 2012
7:57 am

Did broun, gingrey, woodall and price retire?

That would be a few less crazy people.